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How do i electrically ground myself?

Last response: in Systems
December 27, 2011 4:13:44 PM

Okay, so i plan to build my computer tomorrow, i'm going to be installing a motherboard, ram, processor, and graphics card. But from all the sources i've heard and talked to i need to "electrically ground myself" to protect the sensitive hardware from electric shock, that makes sense, though how i go about doing that has been left rather ambiguous, so i was hoping the experts here at tom's hardware could help me out. So i have some questions...

A. How do i ground myself?

B. Do i need, or should i get an "Antistatic wrist strap" if so why?

C. I have a cat, it being winter makes the cats fur very dry and static(Y) (I can feel it when i pet him) should i lock him up somewhere during the building of the computer?

D. Do i need to wear any special clothing while i do this (I know this one sounds stupid but i read somewhere that i shouldn't wear wool or other clothes because they produce a large amount of static)

E. I've seen in some YouTube video's where people are installing hardware (Graphics card's, Motherboards, ETC), they put the device atop of their Antistatic bag that the item comes wrapped in (Like mine do), does that help, or work?

F. Should i do this on a carpet or on a hardwood floor?

So if anyone can clear those up for me it would be well appreciated, and i apologize for the category i put this question in, it seemed like the best one because i'm installing a new system.


More about : electrically ground

December 27, 2011 4:26:39 PM

when i built mine i was standing on a stone floor. carpet is the worst because it gathers loads of static. i would keep the cat away to be safe. i dont think you need the wrist strap as long as youre on hard non carpet floor. an easy way to ground yourself is to touch the screw below a light switch.
December 27, 2011 4:32:00 PM

Do i have to keep holding the screw? do i just touch it once?
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December 27, 2011 4:33:37 PM

touch it once. if you have any static electricity on you itll shock from your finger to the screw. if you dont nothing will happen.
a c 78 B Homebuilt system
December 27, 2011 4:35:37 PM

You can ground yourself by touching anything that is metal. This will make the current in you go into the metal because the metal is a better conductor of electricity than you are and it goes in the path of least resistance.

A convenient source of metal is the computer case, the metal parts of the housing.

If you touch those early and often, you shouldn't have any problems.

Note, you don't need to "feel" a static shock in order to have one happen. One can happen at a low enough level you can't feel it, but still strong enough to damage computer parts. Your best bet is to touch the case early and often.

I don't think you really need to lock up your cat or anything for static reasons as long as you do the above, but you might not want the cat to, say, walk on or lick your motherboard so you might want to lock it out of the room for that reason.

I wouldn't change your clothing choices for this reason.

Putting things on top of anti-static bags does provide benefits. It is like insurance, you probably don't need it but if you do it is very nice to have it.

As an aside here, do as I say not as I do is IN EFFECT. I often build systems while sitting on carpet (not recommended) rather than on wooden tables (recommended). I have even been known to put motherboards directly on the carpet (not recommended) rather than on the anti static bag (recommended) or leaving it in the box till I am ready for it (also recommended).

Given the choice, it is better to install everything on a wood surface, but if you touch the case early and often it is generally an insurance policy you won't need.

Also, I don't think I should really need to point this out or anything, but if your wooden table is sitting on carpet then while you are building the system you probably don't want to vigorously rub your feet on the carpet or any crazy stuff like that.

Basically you want to factor in both convenience and protection into your computer building system. Building systems on carpet is the easiest for me because the carpet is where my old computers are and I borrow components from old computers to put in new ones when I upgrade stuff.

However, I do my best to limit risk when it doesn't impact convenience negatively or only does so minorly.

I don't own an anti-static strap not have I ever used one and I have built hundreds of systems without them as an IT person.

I don't think I have ever broken a part due to static in my life, because touching the case over and over is just that good.
December 27, 2011 4:50:03 PM

Lock up the cat.

Touch the metal part of your computer case to ground yourself.

Don't move around, stay in one spot as to not create static.

If you do have to move, ground yourself again on the metal of the case.

I personally setup a good work area, where I will not have to move around much, and I have gotten into the habit of grounding myself on the computer case before I touch every/any computer component.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 27, 2011 5:03:14 PM

No where near carpet and don't walk across carpet during the build.

Just touch the metal of the psu before you pick up your components you'll be fine.

Try not to touch the components chips, capacitors or anything else, handle your components by the edges.

If you set components down set them on top of a anti-static bag.
December 11, 2013 12:44:34 PM

Raiddinn said:
Putting things on top of anti-static bags does provide benefits. It is like insurance, you probably don't need it but if you do it is very nice to have it.

DO NOT PUT YOUR HARDWARE ON TOP OF ANTI-STATIC BAGS!!!! EVER! The outside of the anti-static bags are conductive, you put your parts on there, you have a very good chance of frying your parts. Please don't do it!